By Erica Spinks
Have you wondered how you can sew selvedges trimmed from your fabric pieces instead of throwing them away? Many clever quilters have recycled their selvedges into fun projects – why don’t you, too?
What are selvedges?
Selvedges (or selvages) are the edges formed on woven fabric by the turning of the weft threads at the end of each row. These edges don’t fray, because the threads are doubled back to form a thicker border along the length of the fabric. We normally remove these selvedge edges on fabrics before cutting out pieces because they are a firmer weave and can distort the finished project.
I’ve been collecting selvedges from my cotton quilting fabrics for several years. Usually one of the selvedges will show small amounts of each colour used in the printed design plus the name of the manufacturer, designer and fabric collection. These details vary from fabric to fabric. Since I love incorporating text into my quilts, I thought these strips might be useful in the future.
Soon I was equally attracted to the dots of colour on the selvedges. Some gorgeous current Japanese fabrics now have small pictures instead of dots, which just makes collecting selvedges even more fun.
After I acquire a new piece of fabric, the first thing I do is trim the selvedge. I usually cut at least half an inch into the printed fabric as well, because I have found this allows me to add more colour to my projects. Several friends have kindly contributed to my selvedge collection too (this is a good way to add selvedges from fabrics in colours and designs you may not normally purchase yourself).
Inspirational selvedge creations
There are many sewers who have seen the design potential of these wonderful strips. Karen Griska wrote a book Quilts from the Selvage Edge, published by the American Quilter’s Society in 2008, in which she provides instructions for several home furnishing projects that feature selvedges. Karen regularly posts about other selvedge sewers on her blog.
Jodie Carlton wowed the blog world last October when she posted photographs of her amazing full-skirted selvedge frock. Jodie has also made a stunning parasol and beautifully upholstered chair. Aren’t they all remarkable?
You can also see my selvedge experiments here